“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psa. 107:31)
At the beginning of another year we reflect upon our experiences of the past year, thank God and give praises to Him for the blessings bestowed upon us. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to those throughout the world who have endured extreme hardship and loss of loved ones due to violence, armed conflict, and disease. God bless the good people who have risked their lives to aid those caught in these unfortunate circumstances. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Prov. 15:3)
There were so many significant events in 2014 that it would be impossible to describe them all, but we will summarize a few of them and quote from some journalist reports touching on them.
The rise of ISIS: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a former affiliate of Al Qaeda, is an extremist Sunni group striving to create an Islamic state ruled by strict Sharia law. After taking control of northern Iraq in early 2014, it headed south toward Baghdad, seizing the country’s largest oil facility. With the U.S. and other nations under pressure to consider a military response, in August President Obama ordered limited airstrikes against ISIS. In retaliation, ISIS beheaded an American journalist, releasing a graphic video of his killing. This was followed by the beheadings of a second U.S. journalist and three aid workers (two British one American). When ISIS invaded Syria, Syrian refugees flooded into Turkey, creating a humanitarian crisis. In late September, airstrikes began in Syria. By November, ISIS had spread to Libya, taking over the city of Derma, which is only about 200 miles from the southern parts of the European Union.
ISIS is particularly brutal towards women and girls, with reports of gang rape and torture. The group has threatened to kill all Christians, but it also targets other Muslims who are not Sunni. ISIS is so brutal that even other terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, have distanced themselves from it.
“Gang warfare in Jihadi-land: They love death so much, these Islamist extremists, that they have taken to practising it on each other. Not content with inducing young people to blow themselves up, or with slaughtering innocent civilians who happen to get in their way, they have turned in on themselves. Like Chicago in the 1920s, rival gangs are scrabbling for supremacy in the lawless free-for-all battleground that is today’s Syria. At least 2,300 rebels and jihadists have been slain in the past month battling each other in that benighted country.
“The rebel infighting erupted in early January 2014 between a loose alliance of moderates and Islamists on the one hand, and on the other the violent and ruthless jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS.” (The Jerusalem Post on-line, February 26, 2014)
Israel-Palestine peace talks break down: Peace talks began in 2013 after Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners (the first of four prisoner releases agreed to by Israel in an attempt to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table). The talks showed signs of breaking down in November 2013 after Israel announced it planned to build 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem. In March 2014, Israel failed to release the final group of prisoners when PA (Palestinian Authority) President Abbas formally applied to join 15 international agencies, an attempt to gain statehood benefits outside of the negotiating process. Negotiations ceased completely when Fatah and Hamas (opposing factions in Palestinian politics) announced a reconciliation, forming a “unity government.”
Israel-Palestine violence escalates: In June, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed while hiking in the area known as the West Bank. The burned body of a missing Palestinian teenager was found days later in a forest near Jerusalem. Escalating tensions resulted in riots in East Jerusalem. Hundreds of rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. Israel launched a ground offensive aimed at taking out tunnels used by Hamas to enter Israel. After several failed cease-fire attempts, an agreement mediated by Egypt was accepted by both sides on August 26. In a symbolic act, the British Parliament voted in October to give diplomatic recognition to Palestine.
Following numerous other terror attacks, two Palestinians, armed with a gun and meat cleavers, entered a synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18 during morning prayers and killed four worshipping Rabbis, three American and one British.
“Abbas Applauds Call for Jihad in Jerusalem: Jihadi fighters should not be fighting in Syria but should go to Jerusalem. This was the message of PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, in front of Mahmoud Abbas [President of the PA]:
“‘Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear... Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address.’
“Abbas, who was in the audience, applauded when Al-Habbash said that Jihadi fighters should not be sent to Syria but to Jerusalem.” (Palestinian Media Watch, January 14, 2014)
“The Palestinian get-together: The recently trumpeted Fatah-Hamas reconciliation brings to mind the notorious Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 – a totally cynical alliance of sworn enemies, conceived in the temporary self-interest of the two parties without any regard for principle, and destined to be torn asunder within two years.” (The Jerusalem Post on-line, May 7, 2014)
“Hamas bombed Fatah officials’ homes and faked ISIS claim of responsibility: A Western intelligence source speaking exclusively to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday revealed that it was Hamas that bombed homes and vehicles belonging to Fatah officials in Gaza last Friday [November 7], and made sure to forge a false claim of responsibility by the Islamic State in Gaza. ‘We will not allow the return of internal conflicts, chaos and anarchy to the Gaza Strip,’ Hamas spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said at the time of the blasts.
“The intelligence source said such activities may form a pattern of operation conducted by Hamas when it wants to hurt its rivals without being blamed.”(Jerusalem Post On-line November 13, 2014)
Boko Haram in Nigeria: Boko Haram (the name may be translated “Western education is sin”) is a militant Islamist movement based in northeast Nigeria. Its aim is to create a caliphate (a religious state) in Nigeria based on strict Sharia law. It has bombed schools, churches and mosques, and kidnapped and murdered thousands of people. While the group’s goal is to destroy the Nigerian government, it has expressed its willingness to attack the United States and Europe. The kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a school in the village of Chibok and the Nigerian government’s inept attempts to rescue them sparked international outrage.
“Boko Haram: Terror’s Insidious New Face: Among those moved to demand #BringBackOurGirls [Twitter campaign] have been Jesse Jackson, Angelina Jolie, the Iranian government, the Coca-Cola Co. and the prime minister of Nepal. Michelle Obama used her husband’s weekly address to tell Americans: ‘In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters.’ …None of this has done anything to bring the girls home. Instead, Boko Haram has responded to the attention by stepping up its attacks… …#BringBackOurGirls is having to confront an awkward suspicion: that by ‘raising awareness,’ the campaigners may have given Boko Haram precisely the global profile it wanted.” (Newsweek.com., July 9, 2014)
Ebola outbreak: An Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in May 2014 and by the fall it had become the worst outbreak of the disease in history. According to the World Health Organization, 5,160 people had died of the outbreak as of November 12. In mid-October, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed restrictions on travelers to the U.S. from affected West African countries after several cases of Ebola were diagnosed in the U.S.
Russia and Ukraine: Protests arose in Ukraine in late 2013 when the country’s president, under pressure from Russia, backed out of a trade agreement with the European Union. Protests and violence escalated in early 2014, with the protesters insisting on integration with Europe. With the government in turmoil, the prime minister and the cabinet resigned. Opposing demonstrations broke out in Crimea, a pro-Russian region of Ukraine. Russia sent troops to Crimea, prompting international outrage. In a referendum in Crimea on March 16, 97% of voters chose to secede from Ukraine. On March 18, Putin signed a treaty stating that Russia had annexed Crimea. The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Russian officials and Putin advisers. The events further deteriorated Russian’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe and complicated talks over Iran’s nuclear program and peace efforts in Syria.
Rise in anti-Semitism: Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, particularly in Europe. According to a study released by the AntiDefamation League, it is estimated that 26% of the world’s adult population harbors anti-Semitic attitudes. A spike in hate speech, rioting and attacks against Jews on the European continent over the summer coincided with the violence in Israel and Gaza.
“Germany warns anti-Semitism rising on back of Middle East violence: Germany’s foreign minister said at an international conference on anti-Semitism on Thursday [November 13] that ‘hatred of Jews’ was on the rise once more in his country and across Europe, fueled by spiraling violence in the Middle East. Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany’s Jews were subjected to threats and attacks at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza must not be used as justification for an anti-Semitic behavior.
“As well as slogans like ‘Gas the Jews!’ during some marches, in July at the height of the 50-day Gaza war petrol bombs were thrown at a synagogue in Wuppertal which had been burnt down on Kristallnacht – a Nazi attack on the Jews in 1938 – and rebuilt.
“‘Bold and brutal anti-Semitism has shown its ugly face again,’ Steinmeier told an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) event.” (Reuters, November 13, 2014)
“Yale chaplain’s resignation reflects larger mainline tensions over Israel: When an Episcopal chaplain at Yale University seemed to suggest that Jews were culpable for Israel’s actions against Palestinians and a related rise in global anti-Semitism, his comments not only led to his resignation but rekindled a debate within mainline Protestant churches about how to respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“In a letter to The New York Times responding to an op-ed by Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt about rising European anti-Semitism, the Rev. Bruce Shipman wrote that ‘the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.’
“While the Episcopal Church supports a two-state solution and advocates for peace and reconciliation between both sides, Shipman’s flare-up reflects ongoing debate within several mainline denominations about divestment from Israel, sensitivities around anti-Semitism and uneasy attempts to strike a balance.
“The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted earlier this summer to divest pension funds from three companies that sell nonlethal equipment to the Israeli military. Jewish groups denounced the move as biased against Israel and damaging to interfaith relations.
“‘These denominations that used to be uniformly pro-Israel are having significant pressure from groups to be critical of Israel,’ said Jeff Walton, communications manager for the Institute on Religion & Democracy, a conservative Washington think tank that is frequently critical of mainline denominations.” (Religion News Service on-line, September 16, 2014)
Comment: The LORD declared, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” (Gen. 12:3)
Ferguson Missouri shooting leads to violence in the U.S.: The August 9 shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, led to violent protests. The unrest continued for weeks despite curfews and deployment of the National Guard. Further unrest occurred in November after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer.
U.S. unaccompanied minor humanitarian crisis: More than 62,000 unaccompanied children from Central America were reported to have entered the U.S. between January and July 2014. Children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico are fleeing extreme violence in these countries resulting from the drug trade, organized crime, gangs, and political instability. Children crossing the border are put into the custody of the U.S. border patrol. Some Americans have protested, demanding the children be sent back to their home countries.
“It’s time for church people to stop their usual fussing (COMMENTARY): When churches conclude their summer hiatus and resume full-scale ministries this week, much will have changed from a year ago – outside their doors.
“Conditions might have changed inside, too. But it is the world outside that demands fresh attention in mission and ministry.
“Ferguson, Mo., has happened, revealing disturbing trends in law enforcement and deep fault lines between white experience and black experience.
“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine happened, threatening a resumption of dangerous tensions between Moscow and Western democracies.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria happened, raising the dreaded specter of a take-no-prisoners war on modernity, reason, progress, women and other faiths.
“The 113th Congress happened, mired in systemic dysfunction, with one party determined to cripple a black president and to channel more wealth to the wealthy.
“The Koch brothers and their megabuck cronies happened, changing the face of electoral politics with unprecedented infusions of cash and ideological vitriol.
“The two-tier economy happened, with one tier doing extraordinarily well and a much, much larger tier falling further behind, leaving despair among all age groups.
“Border wars between terrified migrants and swaggering white men bearing arms against children happened, threatening America’s true core value as a welcoming nation promising freedom.
“These outside-the-walls developments have little to do with the usual church fussing – except to say that it’s time for church people to stop their usual fussing.
“This year will be a test. Can American Christianity get over itself and truly serve a desperate society? If churches do nothing more than business as usual – the mega getting more mega in splendid isolation, the struggling trying to hang on by not offending anyone – the Christian enterprise in America will have declared bankruptcy.” (By Tom Ehrich, Religion News Service on-line, September 2, 2014)
Comment: In 1897 Pastor Russell wrote, “The attitude of the people of God should be that of great thankfulness to the Giver of every good. They should make provision for the great storm that is coming and keep very quiet, not unduly interested in the side of either rich or poor. We know in advance that the Lord is on the side of the people. He it is that will fight the Armageddon Battle, and His agency will be that peculiar army – all classes. When this great ‘earthquake’ of social revolution comes, it will not be a mere handful of anarchists, but an uprising of the people to throw off the great power that is strangling them. Selfishness is at the bottom of the whole matter.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume IV, Foreword)
Climate change: In March a UN panel released a report that predicted dire consequences for the entire world if leading nations do not take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gases. The consequences cited include rising sea levels, food and water shortages, crop losses, destructive storms, and geopolitical conflict.
“Pulse of Our Planet: Watching Earth’s vital signs: NASA’s health check on Earth, provided by its satellites, gives a consistent diagnosis: Over the long-term, the planet is warming and this is influencing all aspects of our climate system… Does this mean we are doomed to a grim fate? Not necessarily… Science can influence policy and this can create change… In the words of one recent statement, released by the United Nations: ‘The Earth’s protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades thanks to concerted international action against ozone-depleting substances.’” (Excerpt from Nasa.gov., October 23, 2014)
“Israel surely in front line for climate refugees: As sea levels climb and extreme weather events intensify, climate change will not only impact global ecology, but will also pose a threat to national security, according to a report released by the US Defense Department…
“‘Climate change does not directly cause conflict but it can significantly add to the instability, hunger and conflict,’ Tal [Prof. Alon Tal of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev] told The Jerusalem Post… ‘That does seem to be the case in Israel and even more so among its neighbors.’
“For example, the acute water shortages in the Middle East – a combination of mismanagement and hyper-population growth, exacerbated by drought – can ‘easily be translated into political instability,’ Tal argued.
“Displaced farmers in Syria simply could not continue to produce food without irrigation water, a frustration that was manifested in unrest that led to the extremism of today, he explained.
“‘It surely serves as a cautionary tale for Jordan, Egypt, and even Lebanon,’ Tal said.
“Due to the shift to desalination for drinking water and recycled wastewater in agriculture, Israeli society is much less dependent on rainfall, Tal continued…‘Given its proximity to Africa, Israel is surely in the “front line” for the climate refugees which the anticipated droughts and floods in Africa will produce,’ Tal said.” (Jerusalem Post on-line, October 14, 2014)
Comment: In 1896 Pastor Russell wrote, “Great physical changes in nature may reasonably be expected as a part of the impending trouble (intermingled with the social, political, financial and religious troubles of this day of the Lord). What the changes will be we know not; but we do know that present conditions of climate, etc., are not such as we should expect or are promised ‘when the Kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the governor among the nations.’ If, therefore, any of the King’s Own shall witness at close quarters any of the fearful signs connected with the grand changes now due, let them remember that the Lord knoweth them that are his and will not permit anything to come upon them that he will not overrule for good.” (Reprint No. 2019)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SPEAKS OUT
“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle…Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:2,3)
Prime Minister Netanyahu forcefully summarized the current state of the world in a speech before the UN on September 29, 2014. The following are excerpts from his speech:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The people of Israel pray for peace. But our hopes and the world’s hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march. It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. Typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one. Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds – no creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world. You know the famous American saying: ‘All politics is local’? For the militant Islamists, ‘All politics is global.’ Because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world.
“Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.
“Hamas’s immediate goal is to destroy Israel. But Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists. That’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11. And that's why its leaders condemned the United States for killing Osama Bin Laden, whom they praised as a holy warrior.
“So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common: Boko Haram in Nigeria; Ash-Shabab in Somalia; Hezbollah in Lebanon; An-Nusrah in Syria; The Mahdi Army in Iraq; And the Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.
“Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi’ites. Some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the 7th century. Others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the 9th century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their quest for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance – Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims.
“Militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad. But so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept to power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree about who among them will be the master… of the master faith. That’s what they truly disagree about. Therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.
“There is one place where that could soon happen: The Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words: We will export our revolution to the entire world. Until the cry ‘There is no God but Allah’ will echo throughout the world over… And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, have done exactly that.
“Listen to its current commander, General Muhammad Ali Ja’afari… He said: Our Imam did not limit the Islamic Revolution to this country… Our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government… Iran’s President Rouhani stood here last week, and shed crocodile tears over what he called ‘the globalization of terrorism.’ Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone. To say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.
“So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose, and for one purpose only: To lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces, and leave it with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power. In the future, at a time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous state in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.
“Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons. Ladies and Gentlemen, Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic State of Iran do those things either.
“Because here’s what will happen: Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charm and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. It’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world. There is only one responsible course of action to address this threat: Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. Make no mistake – ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.
“The fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it’s set back in every place. That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight. It’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow.
“For 50 days this past summer, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters, day after day. You wouldn’t let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity. Nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. Yet Israel also faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war. Because, in an attempt to win the world’s sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools, not just schools – UN schools, private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel. As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians.
“We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualty. And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.
“No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. This concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable, given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. As their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel’s citizen army – the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls – they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation, but admiration. Admiration from decent people everywhere.
“Now here’s what Hamas did: Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest. No less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this. Hundreds of them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, As Israeli children huddled in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer: Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles.
“By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties, Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that a double war crime – Hamas is given a pass. The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as human shields. Use them again and again and again. You know why? Because sadly, it works.
“We live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror, where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Yet nearly half, nearly half of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East – Israel, where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by independent courts and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society. The Council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of the world’s oldest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. And that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.
“It is now spreading in polite society, where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel. For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today, the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide. Genocide? In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy’s civilian population to get out of harm’s way? Or ensuring that they receive tons, tons of humanitarian aid each day, even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us? Or setting up a field hospital to aid for their wounded? Well, I suppose it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust, and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews, Judenrein, can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
“In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people. But no more. Today we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield. We will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed. Ladies and Gentlemen, Despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have an historic opportunity.
“After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together we and they face many of the same dangers: principally this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world.
“I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people. But it must be a genuine peace, one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements, rock solid security arrangements on the ground. Because you see, Israel’s withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders from which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel. These sobering experiences heighten Israel’s security concerns regarding potential territorial concessions in the future. Those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you.
“The Middle East is in chaos. States are disintegrating. Militant Islamists are filling the void. Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range – a few miles – of 80% of our population. Think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the UN building here and Times Square. Israel’s a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement, which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. Yet despite all that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do, and I always will. Because, as Prime Minister of Israel, I am entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waver in fulfilling that responsibility.
“In Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish. And with very few natural resources, we have used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation. Peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people, but for many, many others in our region.
“There is a new Middle East. It presents new dangers, but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities. Together we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians.
“All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth. And the truth must always be spoken, especially here, in the United Nations.
“Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power.
“For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent. For the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still. Until her justice shines bright, And her salvation glows like a flaming torch. [Isa. 62:1]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future.” (Published in the Jerusalem Post on-line, September 29, 2014)
The date of our Lord’s Memorial is April 1, 2015, after six p.m.